My mother bought me this on one of the Life's end journeys she made after my father died. She visited the British Isles and stopped at the Isle of Skye someplace close to where my ancestral namesakes originated from. It is not a knock off. It is a commissioned handmade kilt produced for me and the size I was at the time. Needless to say, twenty years ago I was a tad smaller.
If memory serves, it is the hunting kilt of the Clan MacCrimmon. My forebears were a sub clan of Clan MacLeod and were considered the finest pipers in Scotland for many years. It is a beautiful piece of tailoring. Made with umpteen square yards of wool fabric, it must weigh in at 15 pounds or so. The family of Duncan, my friend who recently passed, have asked that anyone owning a kilt among his friends wear it to the services.
Somehow I will make this happen. While I cannot shrink to pre-old fart weight, I will figure out how to make this one hang without exposing anything that might shock or dismay. It is the least I could do to honor Duncan's memory.
Who my ancestors were has been of little interest to me for most of the last 56 years. My parents weren't hot on the subject. Just your usual tales of their youth and relatives they knew but I never would. As far back as they could remember was about it. My Aunt Helen on the other hand was right into it. Somewhere in my attic is a family tree she had commissioned back in the day. I was the last entry I think. On that impossibly large list of things to do, finding that family tree in the attic is near the bottom. I think perhaps I may move it up though. Unconnected events and actions of mine in recent months have pushed the idea of roots and where I came from into my mind more often. Pulling out this kilt for a completely different matter is just the latest.
I have no burning desire to go to Scotland. It would be nice and all, but I just do not care if I ever make it there. Traveling much of anywhere does not interest me. But knowing more family history does. My knowledge gets sketchy past my father's generation.
I wonder why the family history generates more interest as we get older? I know when I was young and dumb, I would often feign interest when tales were told of dead relatives or of shenanigans my elders were involved in. I only half listened to them. What I have retained are but the highlights, the oft repeated tales. And since I was born so late in my parents' lives, I have no working memory of any of my grandparents. And now I wish I had paid more attention instead of watching the game, or keeping my nose buried in that book during the infrequent family gatherings that included more family members than those I shared shelter with.
So I will wear the kilt tomorrow. To honor Duncan's memory and his deep interest in all things Scottish. I will also wear it and remember my mother who took the time to find a kilt maker and not just pick something up at the duty free shop before she came home.
BBC mentioned in his comment from my remembrance post of two days ago that he found the grieving process to be fascinating in some ways. Especially in the different ways people exhibited it. I was raised in a family that did not celebrate deaths with wakes, burials, big to dos. As far back as I can remember, our family never opened their grief period to anyone outside the family and maybe a few close friends. Basic bare bones obits followed by simple memorial services and no grave side gatherings. And since cremation has been the chosen method of dealing with the pieces and parts left, I have never been to a family viewing. As my mom said, "I want my last memory of them to be when they were alive, not laid out in some casket."
But having been around long enough now to have experienced more than a few funeral services, I have to say BBC is right. The process of grief is a very interesting thing to witness if one can do it without the actual baggage of grieving. Seems there is not one thing we humans will not celebrate in one way or another. The big three, births, weddings, and deaths have always been focal points for some kind of party. As I finish this post up, there is a pot luck supper in Duncan's memory down to the Town Hall not 300 yards from here. I cannot go. I paid my respects at the funeral home, but am unwilling to share my grief with anyone but myself and my wife right now. Tomorrow at the service, I will be ready to face his other friends and family again. But not again tonight. It is just too much.